Sometimes people ask me why I am so passionate about data and how data are stored and managed. People outside the storage industry consider our domain of expertise to be one of the dullest specializations in information technology. You will believe me when I say I don’t agree. After all, I work for a vendor that has its origins in storage infrastructure. But I am convinced storage will always be one of the key parts of a datacenter.
Let me ask you a question: what does it mean when people say they had a bad day in IT? Usually they will tell you that either the network or storage were down. Storage and networking are like oxygen: if you don’t get any air, you die. If your network or your storage infrastructure is down, your company cannot function. And why is storage more important than networking? With networking, it’s fairly easy to start things up again and resume where you were. If something goes really wrong with your data storage, you have to start looking for backups and that’s not something we really enjoy, is it?
But that’s a negative reasoning, of course. The reason we’re so passionate about storage is because we’re passionate about data and what data can mean to a company. The recent trend of big data goes to show all this. Being able to capture, store and manipulate the wealth of data in the world is what’s helping both business and government to deliver better customer service. Recently I came across an opinion piece which claimed that the governments could easily save billions if they used big data analytics to tackle fraud.
When we think big data, we think of the huge volumes of data we are amassing. The growth of data is really exponential, and this forces companies like EMC to find new ways to allow companies to store this data in an economical way. New technology, like data deduplication, has come along to lower the cost of storage. With more data being gathered and being consumed by corporate end-users, we need more speed to get the right data to the right person in a reasonable time, and this has given birth to the rise of SSD or flash in the datacenter. Flash storage really is one of the hottest assets in the datacenter.
And over the last couple of years, data storage has been moving more in the direction of software. At EMC, we spend the biggest chunk of our R & D budget on software. And that’s a whole new direction for the software industry. These days, there’s a lot of buzz about software-defined data centers and software-defined storage. Trends that will most certainly not go away any time soon. As the complexity of IT environment grows, we will resort to software ever more to manage the complexity and automate tasks.
Flash, big data, software-defined data centers – three of the most regularly covered topics in the specialized press, and these all have a close link to my daily passion. Storage a boring sector? I really don’t think so.